Reviewed: Packing cubes for the suitcase traveller

Packing cubes test and review

Packing cubes are one of those things that seem to feature in almost every packing tips article – with a whole line of converts preaching about how they have revolutionised the way they pack for their travels. And I certainly could’ve done with a way to organise the giant backpack I took on my round-the-world trip. I used to be a chronic overpacker and you could guarantee that whatever I was looking for would always be buried right at the bottom in an inaccessible corner. But these days I’m a much better packer and more likely to be found wheeling a suitcase than lugging a backpack, so would packing cubes be any use to me now? Silverfox Travel and Outdoors kindly sent me a set of three Go Travel packing cubes to try it out.

Packing cubes test and review

My week’s worth of clothes ready for the packing challenge

The test

To try out the cubes I set myself a little packing challenge, using my normal carry-on-sized suitcase and the amount of clothes I’d pack for a week-long trip somewhere reasonably warm (which is pretty much the same as I would pack for a longer trip as I normally just do laundry while I’m away). So that included seven tops (two long-sleeved, two short-sleeved and three vests), two cardigans, a jumper, two pairs of jeans/trousers, a pair of shorts, a skirt and a dress, plus swimsuit, pyjamas, underwear and socks.

Packing cubes test and review

The fully packed cubes

First I packed my case as I would do normally, folding most things flat and rolling the rest to fill the gaps. Then I repacked using the packing cubes. The cubes come in a set of three, with the smallest 20 x 23cm, the middle one 23 x 28cm and the largest 28 x 45cm. They’re made from a sturdy black plastic material with a clear strip so you can see what’s inside. When I first opened them they didn’t look very deep and I couldn’t imagine that I’d fit much in, but they were a lot bigger than they looked. The smallest cube fit my underwear in, the medium cube fit all the tops, and the biggest cube – which was a lot larger than the others – fit in all the bottoms, as well as the dress, cardigans, jumper and pyjamas, and still had room to spare. The only things I didn’t have a place for were the socks which I just stuffed into any gaps.

Packing cubes test and review

My suitcase packed using the cubes

The verdict

I was surprised to find that despite folding up everything as neatly as I could, there was still more space left in my case when I used the packing cubes. They helped squeeze out any extra space between clothes and kept them compressed so they take up less room. They make it easier to pack too as you just put the stacks of clothes straight inside rather than packing each item into the case individually. My only criticism would be the sizing – the smallest cube was the perfect size for underwear, but the middle one could do with being a bit larger or deeper, and the largest cube was almost too big. It was almost as long as my suitcase and even when I filled it up with all the clothes I had left over there was still space remaining. And having one big bag kind of defeats the purpose of organising your clothes into sections.

Packing cubes test and review

The largest cube is bigger than cat-sized!

So would I use packing cubes again? Well yes and no. If I bring my backpack back out of its temporary retirement then I would definitely use them, and would recommend them to everyone else. And at only £7.99 they’re well worth the cost. But if you’re travelling with a suitcase then it depends. For short trips or if you’re just heading to one destination then they’re a bit unnecessary as you can just unpack. But for trips or where you’re moving about a lot – like a road trip – I can see them being very useful. The extra space they make is a bonus, but it’s the organisation benefits that sold me. They make it very easy to find whatever you’re looking for and keep your bag tidy so you can repack quickly and easily.

Disclaimer: my packing cubes were provided by Silverfox Travel and Outdoors.

Comments

  1. says

    They seem pretty handy, but I think I would agree that it’d be best utilized with a backpack. My biggest problem with packing (or should I say, OVERpacking) is the weight limitations on airlines. Thanks for sharing! :)

    • says

      I used to end up carrying a lot of stuff in my hand luggage as my bag was at the weight limit but I got so fed up with carrying around a huge bag that managed to retrain myself to pack less!

  2. thetrustedtraveller says

    These are a great idea that I have been wanting to use for a while but was concerned they would add extra weight to my already heavy bag. How are they in terms if weight Lucy?

    • says

      Wow that’s quite a packing challenge! Layering is definitely the way to go – I have some ultralight thermal tops and leggings I always pack as they are really warm and take up very little space. Same with a thin fleece. Also if you’re doing the cold regions together then it may be worth posting your winter clothes back home once you’ve finished with them.

  3. Parkkun says

    This is a good idea!. I’m going to Japan this 25 Feb for 12 days. Wish the flight wouldn’t cancel due to snow storm.

  4. says

    I’ve been traveling for several months and they are really useful as my suitcase is big and I can find specific things quicker. But as you said, it’s worth it for long trips, not short ones.

    • says

      They do definitely help get organised when you’re looking for something in particular – I have bad memories of travelling with a backpack years ago and having to almost empty the entire thing every time I wanted to find something!

  5. says

    I’ve used packing cubes and failed I’ve just accepted the fact that I am always a garbage bag girl. It’s like you can take the garbage bag away from the girl, but the girl will always find a way to still pack it like it’s a garbage bag.

    • says

      Haha, yes I always have at least a few plastic carrier bags in there too! Try not to pack them on the rare occasion I’m in a dorm though, there’s nothing worse than somebody rustling bags at 5am in the morning!

  6. says

    I am moving around a lot on my travels, changing places every few days, plus I am using all modes of local transport. For people like me, these packing cubes seem to be a great idea. After more than ten years I just replaced my 50L “normal” Backpack with a 60L rolling Backpack. This already made travelling a lot more easy and packing more organized on my most recent trip through China – my previous Backpack could only be filled from either top or bottom -, but packing can still be improved. So, I’ll definitely try out those packing cubes on my next trip.

    • says

      Those rolling backpacks are a great compromise between a backpack and a suitcase, and I’d say if you’re moving around a lot then packing cubes are definitely a good idea – means you can always locate things without having to mess up the rest of the bag.

    • says

      They definitely are. Except of a very few disadvantages I really love my new rolling Backpack. Even though my Backpack now is a lot more organized, the item I search is funnily always on the very bottom. So, packing cubes definitely seem to make sense.

  7. says

    I love my cubes for longer trips when I’m not in one place for long periods. I feel they definitely free up some space and keep me from overpacking. They also free up packing up time when moving from location to location!

    • says

      I’ve usually got a bit of spare space in my case anyway (all the better to do a bit of shopping while I’m away!) but definitely agree that they help with packing time – it’s so much easier to put three cubes into a case than it is to have to roll and fold each individual item of clothing.

  8. says

    I travel a lot and have used packing cubes for underwear and socks for a few years now. Those small items stay much more organized using these. Recently, I started using a separate packing cube for my workout clothes, as I don’t use them all the time, so keeping them separate from the rest of my “daily” clothes seems to cut down on the clutter in my bag. I definitely agree they aren’t useful for everything, but definitely have their place in my bag!

    • says

      They’re a great idea for underwear and socks, and I like the idea of using them for certain clothes you don’t use all the time – as well as workout clothes you could use them for waterproofs or hiking kit, or warm clothes if you’re going to a mix of climates. Anything that helps keep thing organised has to be a good idea!

  9. says

    I think they’re great for backpacking. I used them in South America and not only was it easier to find things, but I didn’t make as much noise as I used to when I used plastic bags. I think they should be mandatory!

    • says

      Plastic bags in dorms should definitely be banned – so many late nights and early mornings woken up by people scrabbling around in their bags! Packing cubes are a much more considerate choice!

  10. says

    Was actually considering these for our trip later in the year! We want to travel “compact” so sounds like these could work…. Might have to trial them for a smaller trip first!

    • says

      They are a good idea, especially for longer trips when you’ve got more to organise. Worth trialling them first though to see how useful you find them (they’re pretty inexpensive so it’s not a big investment).

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